Thursday, April 20, 2006

Trouble in the Solomons

The Solomon IslandsSince yesterday morning the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara, has been enveloped in riots and unrest. Both Australia and New Zealand have sent troops to the archipelago to quell the disturbances and restore order so that the newly elected prime minister can be sworn in.

I first heard the story on NPR yesterday morning on the way to work. NPR, which generally displays a tender sensibility where multicultural issues are concerned, mentioned only that the cause of the rioting was “ethnic tensions.”

But what ethnic groups are involved? Who hates whom?

According to The Age,

The mayhem that enveloped Honiara started on Tuesday outside the parliament when a crowd opposed to [Prime Minister-elect Snyder] Rini claimed that his election had been fixed.

Rini has denied allegations that he bribed MPs with money from Chinese business interests.

Most of the buildings targeted in the subsequent riots were Chinese-owned.

So it seems that Chinese people are the victims here.

An AP story has more:

Government spokesman Johnson Honimae said about 90 percent of Chinatown had been destroyed by rioters Tuesday and Wednesday. The rioters also torched a new hotel in Honiara and several parked cars.

And ABC News (Australia) reports:

The ABC has been told by a senior Opposition politician that the events of the last two days were the result of a build-up of resentment toward ethnic Chinese Solomon Islanders and the political power they have in the country.

Not surprisingly, Xinhua has plenty of information about the events in Honiara:

The Chinese government will take every measure possible to secure the safety, lives and property of Chinese people in the Solomon Islands, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said here Thursday.

During the recent unrest in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, dozens of residences and shops in the city’s Chinatown were looted and set on fire. Hundreds of local Chinese residents were forced to flee their homes.

It goes on to describe the humanitarian effort underway to care for the newly homeless Chinese refugees. China does not have diplomatic relations with the Solomons, so all its contacts with the local government must go through a third party.

The ABC reports that the unrest has spread to the neighboring province of Auki, but the arrival of Anglosphere troops has pacified the capital so that Mr. Rini could be sworn in as Prime Minister today, after a 24-hour delay.

In parts of the world where the population of Jews is in short supply, ethnic Chinese people often have to stand in as local scapegoats. The population of the Solomon Islands is about 552,000, and according to Infoplease, the ethnic breakdown is: Melanesian 93%, Polynesian 4%, Micronesian 1.5%, European 0.8%, Chinese 0.3%, and other 0.4%.

No mention of Jews. But notice that there must only be 1,600 or so Chinese in the whole country – enough to scapegoat, but too few to muster the collective clout to fight back.

All across the world the Chinese diaspora strongly resembles that of the Jews. Relative to their surrounding communities, they are usually more economically successful, better-educated, and harder-working. Combined with strong family traditions and the tendency to maintain a distinct ethnic identity through successive generations, these characteristics make them natural targets for resentment and scapegoating.

But what makes them different from the Jews is that they have a “homeland” with more than a billion of their ethnic fellows, always keeping their interests in mind. That’s probably small comfort for the displaced residents of Honiara’s Chinatown, but in the long run it will serve them well.


pst314 said...

Thomas Sowell has written about this problem in "Migrations and Cultures".

Frank said...

Lets not victimify the Chinese too much here. Like Hindus (most notably in the Fiji Islands), and yes, like the Jewish diaspora, they tend to accumulate a hugely disproportionate amount of economic and political power.

This is not about the "undertrodden" Chinese, its a taste of the future.

Wally Ballou said...

I've been reading the Aussie press about this. What is peculiar about the Solomons case is that they have over the past few years become the focus of expensive attentions form both Red China and Taiwan. The Solomons are one of the few Pacific "nations" to recognize Taiwan, and that has casued both sides to interfere massively in local politics to try to preserve, or change, that status.

So a lot of the resentment, unlike most anti-Chinese sentiment, has to do with foreign meddling in their politics. As usual, the innocent will suffer.

Baron Bodissey said...

pst314 --

You are right. I read Sowell's book, and had it in mind when I wrote this. But I didn't have a copy to hand, or any way to quote from it.

Wally Ballou said...

I must misunderstand scottsa - surely he cannot be saying that the Chinese had it coming because they "tend to accumulate a hugely disproportionate amount of economic and political power". I think the Chinese (and Hindus and Jews) tend to accumulate economic (although not always political) power in third world cultures because they each bring with them a culture that celebrates and promotes learning, working and saving.

I don't know what is "hugely disproportionate" about the people who create most of the wealth getting to own most of it.

And lets spare a litle sympathy for the Chinese - maybe they weren't "downtrodden" before, but they certainly are now - over 90% of the businesses in Chinatown have been destroyed. They weren't all bank directors with offshore accounts - a lot of small business owners have been wiped out.

Wally Ballou said...

I guess I didn't misunderstand him after all. Another "protocols of Zion" type. Nice.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Honiara...Now that's a name to conjure with...Capital of the Solomons...and of Guadalcanal Province.

Yes, that Guadalcanal.

Your points about the position of ethnic Chinese labor as local scapegoats are well taken. The most interesting part of the story, though, is the reaction of the Chinese government's mouthpiece, Xinhua. All that business about protecting their nationals...

Long ago, the Japanese used civilians, working all over the Pacific basin, to gather intelligence, and to prepare to serve as agents of influence, and as military auxillaries at the proper time, which came in 1941. The Chinese read their history.

We have been able to count on the Pacific as a quiet backyard since 1945. Guadalcanal and batches of other places with historic names have slumbered on in obscurity.

Them days is gone. The days of the US being able to neglect the Pacific, even the South and Central Pacific, are ending.

Moreover, the question of China, its money, population and its hunger for resources is going to increasingly impose itself on the present war with militant Islam. We're already seeing that with Iran.

We are very, very shortly, going to be unable to deal with the Islamicist problem, or many other issues, without considerations of great power politics intruding.

It follows that we need to get in the game as far as looking for allies. Japan and Australia for starters, India is quite probably another. But NATO (outside of the UK), is largely a dead horse, or going to either wind up as a Franco-German sock puppet; or too convulsed with its own domestic difficulties to be useful to anybody. I look at Europe as more of a future enemy anyway.

There is another possiblity; another power we have lots in common with; that we should be making overtures to;and that, if they're thinking straight, would rather deal with us than Russia or China. Why we're not bending over backwards to talk to Moscow is beyond me.

Myra Langerhas said...

I am more snark than substance, but this is a great informative post with informative comments, and is so much more than one could get from MSM. Thanks GoV, great work.

Frank said...

Dear Cato:

In response to your response...the first rather than the second, which you directed at me about someone else under the mistaken impression that "scott" is spelled the same as "scottsa" (you'll notice, since you didn't by literary means, that by letter count there are an extra two (2) letters in scottsa)...

Anyway, in response, I see that you prefer to hide your head in the sand rather than face certain truths. Odd, since you seem willing enough to face the unpalatable truths about Islam, that you can't bring yourself to look at the rest of the world as it is.

I didn't attach any particular normative quality to the fact that Jews, Hindus and Chinese tend to accumulate, within their own diasporadic group, disproportionate wealth and political power, I simply suggested that we not pretend that they are all babes in the woods who were attacked for no reason at all other than scapegoating. For reasons beknownst only to yourself, you imputed all sorts of nonsense and delivered a howl of outrage rather along the lines of a Jesse Jackson sermon.

Do you have anything substantive to say in response to my post (you know...the first one; not the one by someone with two (2) less letters in his name) or are you content to have gotten the howl off your chest?

Wally Ballou said...

Excuuuse me - since someone named "scott" replied in your defense - my memory of "handles" isn't perfect, and I didn't go back and check. There is another person who posts as "Cato the Elder" with whom I have occasionally been confused, but I didn't consider the people who made the mistake egregiously ignorant. Or is it because you are such a great celebrity, perhaps?

Admittedly, the second scott was more nakedly bigoted and ignorant than the first scottsa.

I attempted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but gave my own opinion that the Chinese who had their homes and businesses destroyed deserved some sympathy.

If you think that's Jesse Jackson style rhetoric, fine.

Well, time to put my head back in the sand about the great Chinese-Hindu-Jew menace.

Wally Ballou said...

Forget the "celebrity" crack - the truth is I do remember "scottsa" from many previous comments. I was just put off by what I thought was wildly overblown indignation at being mistaken. It was just a case of "CRS" - I suffer from am advanced case.

As for the substance of his remarks - who cares? I am used to being told I have my head in the sand by hard-nosed "realists" who know the only answer to jihad is pogrom. The Chinese-Hindu-Jew twist is just an innovative detail.

jj mollo said...

Whenever you have a more productive group that has effective mechanisms of isolation, you're going to have suspicion and envy.

Frank said...

Cato said:
"As for the substance of his remarks - who cares? I am used to being told I have my head in the sand by hard-nosed "realists" who know the only answer to jihad is pogrom. The Chinese-Hindu-Jew twist is just an innovative detail."

Were I Cato, I would worry more about my druidic tendency to fabricate and burn elaborate strawmen than about getting sand in my hair. Since I'm not Cato, I can only suggest that he reread my comment and show where I

A) Made a case for a "Chinese-Hindu-Jew" conspiracy and

B) advocated for pogroms

If he is successful in this, I will in turn show where he advocated for National Socialist euthanasia of homosexuals, Gypsies and Jews, as well as the legalization of child pornography, beastiality and necrophilia.